A small-sized city in South Ecuador, Chordeleg (pop. 14,568) exempli es itself in precious metal work, pottery, footwear manufacturing and toquilla straw weaving. Those four sectors alone employ 66% of the total active population, of which 58% are represented by women artisans. Chordeleg’s craft know- how has been carried out anonymously through absolute con dentiality within families and communities, with ancient techniques being mainly taught through oral tradition. To ensure sustainability of the eld, the City actively supports craftsmen to establish cooperatives and engage in knowledge transfer.
Initiated in 2011, the annual Candonga Festival has become instrumental in promoting Chordeleg’s crafts and fostering knowledge sharing between artisans. The city also collaborates with the Inter-American Centre for Crafts and Popular Arts (CIDAP), aimed at fostering the safeguarding and knowledge transfer of traditional craft methods, as well as to improve working conditions of craftsmen. In addition to the CIDAP, the District Programme has been providing technical assistance and training in design, production and innovation to families of craftsmen.
In recent years, the Municipality has undertaken the implementation, monitoring and follow-up of the National Plan to safeguard the traditional weaving of toquilla. The plan focuses on revitalizing the craft sector through communication and promotion actions, actively involving the organisations of toquilla workers. A broad Development and Territorial Planning strategy is also aligned with protecting and promoting the craft sector and has already supported the creation of 12 new businesses.
As a Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art, Chordeleg envisages:
- supporting research and action to guide the future of the craft communities through a regional review;
- creating a training and knowledge centre, guaranteeing the transfer of craft knowledge and know-how to new generations of artisans;
- safeguarding and promoting design patterns of traditional craftsmanship by supporting creation, production and distribution;
- implementing the Twin Cities Programme aimed at strengthening international cooperation among UCCN cities through exchange of knowledge and skills, as well as development of new entrepreneurship initiatives;
- developing homestay exchanges with other member cities, inviting young artists and entrepreneurs, of various creative elds, to meet Chordeleg’s craftsmen; and
- supporting the production of a two-hour documentary lm, ‘The Search for the Lost Gold Patecte of Ecuador’ involving a director from another Creative City.